Being Told I Could Leave School Felt Like Freedom – Keith Benjamin | Ep. 80

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This week on the podcast, we have a great interview with Keith Benjamin, professor of trumpet at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). I’ve heard about Keith for years from my friends who are former students of his. I was so excited to have the opportunity to chat with him and get to know him myself.

One of the things I really appreciate about Keith in this episode is his honesty. He didn’t hold back anything. Whether we talked about not being sure of your life path, being completely broke during his doctorate, losing his son Cameron, or his frustrations with our current way of life, he was as open a book as you could get. Here are a few takeaways from his episode:

It’s OK To Take A Break

During this interview, Keith talked about his time getting his doctorate at the Eastman School of Music, and how he was actually starving because he had no money. Each day and week was a struggle to get through. One day his teacher, Charlie Geyer, asked him, “Why don’t you just go home for awhile?” Keith’s response was one of shock: “I can do that?”

It’s easy to get into a mindset that once we’ve made a decision to pursue a certain path in our life, taking time off or deciding to permanently make a change means failure. But it doesn’t. Everyone’s path looks different. Keith has enjoyed a long career full of great students and performances. Hopefully this part of his story is an encouragement to anyone who feels like they are struggling and just need a break.

Suffering CAN Teach Us Important Lessons

One of the most intense parts of this interview is when Keith opens up about the loss of his son Cameron. It was a hard time in his life, but hearing him talk about it, there is so much joy and fond remembrance. He mentions that the perspectives he has in his life are largely shaped by that tragedy. No one would wish suffering like this to happen, but it can teach us things we might not be able to learn without it.

A Wholistic Approach To Teaching

I really identified with Keith’s approach to teaching. In addition to the trumpet information he delivers, it’s clear that helping his students develop and feel worth for who they are is incredibly important to him. It’s so interesting to me that he spends some of the early weeks and months with his newer students helping them figure out WHY they want to play their instrument. Developing that why helps them determine if they want to put in the work necessary to succeed, or if there might be some other opportunity for them instead.


I hope you enjoyed listening to Keith’s episode. If you wouldn’t mind leaving a rating and a review on iTunes, I’d really appreciate it. Don’t forget to share on social media so others can find the episode as well! Thanks for listening. Remember: stay strong, be kind to yourself, and never stop growing!

Until next time,

Ryan


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